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ArchiCAD and the Mac

(AFR): Let's talk about your work with ArchiCAD.

(BA): I am very pleased with myself. I put it off all these years learning a CAD program. I used a Harvard-developed, primative modeling program -- Model Shop -- for years. It slowly faded out as the operating systems changed. I used VectorWorks a bit, basically. Only when I started my practice did I get into ArchiCAD. I wanted to see what I was creating.

You wanted to see it in 3D as you developed the work?

(BA): Yes. Everything is in 3D in ArchiCAD.

Have you always practiced architecture on a Mac?

(BA): I have never had a PC and I don't want one. I have always liked the Mac starting with my first SE, using it with tools like ModelShop and Photoshop. It seems to fit my brain. When I sit down in front of a PC I feel like an inexperienced stand-in for Lieutenant Uhura on the Starship Enterprise. I don't get what all those buttons are for.

Do you think Apple could do more in making more tools available for the Mac?

(BA): I want them to come out with AppleCAD, or whatever they might call it.

Do you think CAD or BIM is not easy enough yet, is that what you are suggesting?

(BA): Well...on a certain level yes. The learning curve seems intense. The problem with CAD is that you don't always know what button to push and that's what can take you hours to figure out. The interfaces still seem like throwbacks to Old School programming and the manuals are just dreadful.

What do you like about ArchiCAD?

(BA): It's a great imageing tool. The more I do it the more templates I have. I can give my clients who are thirsty to see what it looks like a 3D view or movie real quickly. In about a half hour I can teach a student some basics of the program to deal with slabs, windows, roof.

Do you think it is easier for students now growing up in the digital age?

(BA): Yes, they come to college familiar with CAD programs. The problem is for older practitioners who have no CAD experience. If you are back there sharpening your pencils you've got real problems. You are no longer engaged in the tools of practice if you don't use computers.

Do you have a tangible goal for your next project?

(BA): I am focused and want to saturate myseelf with housing for now. There is a lot of interesting stuff going on in the world. I would like to develop some affordable prototypical/seed houses using new energy and systems technology. I would like to keep the scale of my work manageable -- I don't want to run a large firm. I want to stay involved.

Right, it's not about size but our carbon inprint on society?

(BA): People act like this is the very first time people built big houses. If you go through Boston's old neighborhoods you will see 100-year old 14 room homes. So big homes are not new.

Architects are so busy with their clients and businesses that they forget about their role as public communicators. Thank you so much for talking to me.

(BA): Thank you for stopping by.


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